Since its inception, Bliss Café has been all about promoting and supporting a healthy San Luis Obispo—its residents and environment alike—through locally sourced, plant-based food. Even though a lot has changed at Bliss since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, that original healthful focus never will.
- Photo Courtesy Of Dominic Chequer
- STAY WELL Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Bliss Café in SLO is offering discounts on all its immunity boosting foods, like the tempeh Reuben sandwich.
"These times are really challenging," co-owner Dominic Chequer told New Times. But, he said later, "This lifestyle is how you protect the environment. This lifestyle is how you protect your own body from coronavirus."
When Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order mid-March, traffic through downtown's only vegan restaurant came to a halt. Similar to many restaurants across the nation, things are quiet, sales are down, and Chequer said Bliss has unfortunately had to make some staffing cuts.
"But simultaneously," Chequer said, "any time bad things arise, they are opportunities for good things."
With fewer customers, the Bliss team has had more time to focus on some long-envisioned projects.
Soon the restaurant will be more like a market, where customers can purchase the usual menu items and grocery shop, too. Chequer said Bliss gets all of its produce fresh from local organic farms, and its available products include specialty vegan items that can be difficult to find at regular grocery stores.
There's no real local, plant-based market in downtown SLO, and Chequer said selling the produce off as grocery items will help support local farms while reducing the restaurant's overall food waste production.
And with coronavirus on the loose, Chequer said there's a lot of interest in the immunity-boosting powers of the plant-based food that Bliss Café has always offered. Bliss wants to cultivate that interest by offering easily accessible, pesticide-free produce in the heart of downtown SLO.
"There's no vaccine, there's no medicine [to cure coronavirus]," Chequer said. "All you can do is take care of yourself."
With that goal in mind, Bliss also recently rolled out a Wellness Menu, which includes the restaurant's best immunity-building foods and juices. Everything on the Wellness Menu is being offered at a discounted price—fresh-pressed juices are buy one, get one 50 percent off, and the food items are 10 percent off.
The menu in general is getting a big upgrade soon. Some new items will be available as soon as mid-April, but Chequer said most of it will be revealed after the whole coronavirus fog has lifted and things are back to normal.
Until then, Chequer said the Bliss staff will be put to work deep cleaning and redecorating. When customers are allowed back in, the whole café will have a fresh look and feel—"a new emergence," he said.
So even though things have been hard, Chequer said, good is coming from it. Some employees, and even family members of employees, are working at Bliss for free, volunteering some of their time so other staff members who really need the money can stay on board.
Thanks to them, and in part to the pandemic, Chequer said, "we're able to see the café in ways we never would have."
• Local paralegal Rebecca Lilley is offering drive-through notary services at a pop-up location at 9900 El Camino Real in Atascadero. Appointments with Lilley can be made through her website at axisparalegal.com or by calling (805) 712-7044.
• The Central Coast State Parks Association is offering free "virtual mind walks" online throughout April. The informational webinars will cover topics from sea otters to great white sharks. Visit the Central Coast State Parks Association's website for more information. Δ
Staff Writer Kasey Bubnash wrote this week's Strokes. Send tidbits to [email protected].